The Cardinals and JJ Watt were an unlikely pairing last offseason.
On February 12th, 2021 JJ Watt was released by the Houston Texans. This came as a surprise to many due to his long and successful tenure with the team. Once he was released several different teams clamored for an opportunity to sign Watt. Many predicted that he would sign with his hometown Green Bay Packers. Others thought he would join his brother TJ in Pittsburgh.
In fact, the Arizona Cardinals were not even a team that was really being considered to sign JJ Watt. So on March 1st, 2020 when JJ Watt tweeted the following, it came as a surprise to many.
JJ betting on himself.
Fast forward to today and it looks like not only did JJ Watt make the correct decision, but the Arizona Cardinals did as well. Through the first seven weeks of the year, Watt did not make a huge impact on the stat sheet. However, watching the games you could clearly see the impact he was having on the team. Play after play he was being double and triple-teamed, which took up blockers making it easier on other defenders such as pass rusher Chandler Jones. He was a constant disrupter in the run game, constantly blowing up the play at the line of scrimmage, so naturally it was a big blow to the team when he hurt his shoulder against the Texans. However, the most valuable aspect of having Watt might not even be his play on the field.
The veteran leadership of JJ Watt not only on defense, but as a whole has been invaluable to the team this year. He has helped mentor their young defensive line, and has been key in Zach Allen’s development. Watt has also been vital in Murray’s development as a leader, which was in major question going into the year.
Week 18 has come to an end now and the Cardinals have designated JJ Watt to return from Injured Reserve. This is key if they have any hopes of making it far, especially with their recent struggles. It is unknown if Watt will be back for their wildcard game against the Rams, so the Cardinals will have to play with their tails on fire. However, if he does return in time for the Wildcard the Cardinals will have 1 less excuse to not win the game.